Energy Statistics Newsletter

United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs- Statistics Division- Energy Section

Issue Number 3, November 2008

Dear Readers,

                Welcome to the current issue of the United Nations Energy Statistics Newsletter that aims to update you on activities and recent developments of the United Nations Energy Statistics Section. Long time has passed since the last issue of the Energy Statistics Newsletter and many things have happen since then.  This Issue of the Newsletter covers major activities and developments that occurred in past years.  As we resume the regular feature of the Newsletter, we hope that you find the newsletter useful and we invite you to send us feedback at


Preparation of the International Recommendations for Energy Statistics (IRES)


The United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), during its 37th session in 2006, discussed energy statistics following a programme review carried out by Statistics Norway in 2005.  As a result of the discussion, the UNSC

(i)            recognized the significance of energy statistics, recommended their development as part of official statistics, including consideration of the need for greater transparency in the documentation of metadata and emphasized the need for capacity-building and training of statisticians;

(ii)           supported the establishment and mandate of the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics and the Intersecretariat Working Group on Energy Statistics (InterEnerStat) and requested proper coordination mechanisms between them;

(iii)          supported the review of the United Nations manuals on energy statistics and requested that the review be based on all relevant methodological work in energy statistics;

(iv)          emphasized the urgent need for harmonization of energy definitions and compilation methodologies and for the development of international standards in energy statistics;

(v)           supported the establishment of a broadly based review team to propose common concepts and definitions, and requested that the United Nations Statistics Division submit the modalities of that review team to the Bureau of the Statistical Commission for approval.

In the second half of 2007 the UN Statistics Division reviewed the work done in preparation for the revision of the existing UN publications on energy statistics and decided that there was enough momentum for the development of International Recommendations for Energy Statistics (IRES). IRES is intended to cover a broad range of issues from basic concepts, definitions and classifications to data sources, data compilation strategies, energy balances and dissemination.  Once approved by the Commission, IRES will provide a firm foundation for a long-term development of energy statistics based on Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.  Additional guidance on technical details and description of good practices in energy statistics to assist countries in implementation of IRES would be provided in the Energy Statistics Compilers Manual (ESCM). 

IRES would be aligned in structure and format to international recommendations approved by the Statistical Commission in other statistical domains, notably the International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics, and the International Recommendations for Distributive Trade Statistics and will take into account all relevant methodological work in energy statistics as Energy Statistics Manual issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA/OECD) and Eurostat.

IRES will be prepared in a close cooperation between the Statistics Division, the Oslo Group and InterEnerStat. Other groups and forums will be consulted as appropriate (e.g., London Group, UNCEEA etc.). The Statistics Division will coordinate the revision process, to conduct a worldwide consultation, to consolidate and to edit inputs into the successive versions of the draft IRES and submit the final draft of IRES to the Commission. The Oslo Group and the InterEnerStat are the key content providers to IRES and ESCM in accordance with the mandates given to them by the Commission.

The preparation of IRES is coordinated with the preparation of the System of Integrated Environmental-Economic Accounting for Energy (SEEA-E) which is expected to provide the international statistical standard for energy accounts consisting of agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and inter-related tables and accounts. IRES and SEEA-E are two complementary documents:  while IRES will comply to the extent possible with the SEEA-E conceptual structure and data needs, SEEA-E will develop its accounting standards on the basis of the IRES (e.g., using IRES definitions of data items and classifications of energy products and flows). The SEEA-E is being developed in consultation with the London Group and the Oslo Group under the auspices of the UNCEEA.

Guiding principles for the revision and updating process

To ensure that the main objective of IRES is achieved, the following principles for the revision and updating process where proposed by the Statistics Division and endorsed by the Oslo Group at its third meeting:

a.    needs of major user groups should be considered as a starting point and be taken into account to the maximum extent possible to ensure that the compiled data are policy relevant, meet the needs of the energy community (both producers and users) and provide a solid foundation for integration of energy statistics into a broader accounting framework;

b.    the revision should be conducted in close consultation with both national statistical offices and national energy agencies as well as with the relevant international and supranational organizations;

c.     while providing recommendations on data items and their definitions care should be taken that (i) necessary data sources are available in at least some countries to compile such data, (ii) collection of such data items will not create significant additional reporting burden, and (iii) collection procedures can be implemented by most countries to ensure improved cross-country comparability;

d.    the revision should be seen in the context of promoting an integrated approach in the national statistical system which requires, to the extent possible, the use of harmonized concepts, classifications, and standardized data compilation methods in order to achieve maximum efficiency and minimize reporting burden;

e.    additional guidance on more practical/technical matters to assist countries in the implementation of IRES should be treated in ESCM. During the revision process, the Oslo Group will discuss the content of ESCM. Preparation of the ESCM should be seen as a parallel process as topics which might be treated in IRES in general terms would need further elaboration to assist data compilers. Ideally, ESCM should be issued one year after the Commission adopts IRES.

Worldwide consultation on IRES

An integral part of the preparation of IRES is a worldwide consultation with countries and other international/regional and supranational organizations which are active in energy statistics. UNSD has set up a consultation process consisting of two stages: (i) an initial consultation on the scope and content of the future recommendation (which was carried out in May-June 2008, see next article); and (ii) a final consultation on the full text of the provisional draft of IRES as soon as it is completed.  In order to facilitate the access to the information, a website has been created on the preparation of IRES and the worldwide consultation (


Worldwide consultation on the scope and content of IRES


The first stage of the worldwide consultation on IRES was undertaken by UNSD in May 2008 in cooperation with the Oslo Group and IEA and concentrated on the scope and content of the future recommendations.  The consultation paper containing an IRES outline and related questions was sent to national statistical offices, energy ministries/agencies and international/regional organizations active in energy statistics. By September 2008 71 national statistical offices, 29 energy ministries/agencies and 5 organizations sent their responses.

The draft annotated outline which was distributed in the consultation was prepared in cooperation with the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics: a preliminary outline was discussed at the third Oslo Group meeting in Vienna, Austria (4-6 February 2008).

The overwhelming majority (more than 98 percent of the responses) supported the objective of IRES to strengthen energy statistics as part of official statistics serving multiple users. Countries emphasized the importance and the benefits of the forthcoming international recommendations for energy statistics. Respondents agreed that the recommendations would be flexible enough to ensure their implementation in all countries irrespective of the level of development of their statistical systems. In particular, it was supported  that the list of data items to be described in IRES should be seen as a reference list from which countries can select the relevant items according to their situation taking into account, for example, identified user needs, resources, priorities and respondent burden.

With regard to the intended scope of the future recommendations there was a strong support for IRES to cover all aspects of the statistical process (94 per cent).  Countries agreed that IRES should focus on the basic energy statistics and energy balances and should include recommendations on how energy statistics and balances are related to energy accounts and other national statistics. Countries broadly endorsed the suggested structure of IRES (the percentage of favourable responses for the chapters varied from a minimum of 93 to a maximum of 99 per cent).

Many respondents provided specific suggestions regarding IRES contents stressing the importance of such specific topics such as consistency of data on production, imports and exports in energy statistics with those in general production statistics and international merchandise trade statistics, clarification of statistical treatment of new sources of energy, use of administrative records, design and organization of sample surveys, various indicators (efficiency indicators, energy indicators, energy sector, per capita consumption indicators), guidance on the appropriate emission factors in the assessment/compilation of carbon emissions and energy prices and taxes. Some countries indicated also that more technical details on data compilation and dissemination should not be part of IRES as they would be country specific, but extensively treated in the future Energy Statistics Compilers Manual. The report on the results of the first stage of a worldwide consultation will be shortly available at (



Global Assessment of Energy Statistics and Balances


In 2007 a Global Assessment of Energy Statistics and Balances was carried out by UNSD.  The Global Assessment was developed by UNSD in close cooperation with the Oslo Group on Energy Statistics with the main objectives:

To identify the role of national statistical offices in the national statistical system in collecting, compiling and disseminating energy statistics and energy balances;

To assess the scope of energy statistics and balances in national statistical offices by identifying the energy sources covered, data collection practices, the use of international guidelines and classifications as well as the usage of the statistics provided; and

To assess the impeding factors in the collection, compilation and dissemination of energy statistics and energy balances.

Report of the Global Assessment has been prepared as a background document for the 39th session of United Nations Statistical Commission and is available online at


Collection and compilation of Energy Statistics - 2007


The 2007 UNSD Annual Energy Statistics Questionnaire is being sent out to countries.  The questionnaire is available in the six UN official languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian. Please visit

The UNSD Energy Statistics Database for the years 1990 to 2006 will be soon available online at UNdata:

UNSD forthcoming publications

The 2006 Energy Statistics Yearbook and 2006 Energy Balances and Electricity Profiles are being finalized and are expected to be available in December 2008.  For more information on the publications, please visit on our website at


Forthcoming meetings

International Workshop on Energy Statistics (Aguascalientes, Mexico 2-5 December 2008) jointly organized by UNSD and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) of Mexico.  More information is available at:

4th Oslo Group Meeting (Ottawa, 2-6 February 2009).  More information is available at:

40th session of the Statistical Commission (New York, 24-27 February 2009).  More information is available at:


Editorial Notes

The Energy Statistics newsletter is a bi-annual publication available on-line, prepared by the Energy Statistics Section of the United Nations Statistics Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations.

For further information and/or feedback, please contact United Nations Statistics Division, Energy Statistics Section, New York, NY10017, USA; email address: or visit our website: